Raise your hand if you’ve sent a handwritten letter in the last 3 months? We’ve managed a handful of postcards that may or may not reach our family in Brazil, the US and Denmark. The eldest kiddo enjoyed sketching on them, while the kindergartener still refuses to write his name because it doesn’t look perfect. To dial down the pressure, I never scold when he engages in marker body art. He’ll get there.
So that’s the kids. What about the adults? Pathetically, no handwriting has been post mailed. I’ve comfortably settled in online, with a mix of social media platforms, group chats, video conferencing & emailing. Why I chose my time off with the kids to erase 7,000 unread emails dating back to 2008? I don’t know. I am cringe-worthily sorry I didn’t reply to some others. There’s no good excuse. One email account stopped forwarding completely, oops! Now, my email icon looks naked without the quadruple red digit above it.
Facebook: my virtual bar.
Instagram: my cozy living room: family, close friends, the odd friend who’s not on Facebook, and a sprinkling of pretty/diverse popular culture & art
Twitter: if I want to get yelled at in my front yard by drive-by passengers.
YouTube: if I were driving around in the Google street-view car.
LinkedIn: if I want to walk around my university campus naked, perpetually in a dream where I forgot to take a language class and won’t be allowed to graduate, but no one else knows as they’re in their own dressing rooms.
TickTock: now I’m trapped in my grandmothers body and only know how to use a rotary phone.
Now that I’ve set the tone of these virtual spaces, who do I invite in? We meet so many folks for so many reasons. Ultimately, I set the bar for Facebook at the literal bar. Would I go out for dinner and drinks, enjoy catching up once a year, chatting about random shit with the occasional debate thrown in? Technically, there are many work colleagues I’d include in this group, but I often err on the side of work/home separation.
I’m a bit leery of writing this out; it is harsh ranking acquaintances in a public way, though I’m curious how others manage the doors of their virtual lives. Some online discussions are comfortable with subsets of friends and exhausting minefields with others. Only once did I part ways (in blunt terms, unfriend) because it was too exhausting to see something and -not- say something. That’s a whole separate post: what to do when faced with crazy talk /conspiracy / fact-deserts? I think I’ve been lucky that the group is small-high school sized (550), blatant misogyny, hate speech & racism is (mostly) missing, and I can scroll past the most mismatched topics without feeling too guilty. I can still be myself.
At the end of the day though, these people are my restaurant mates. I can come to the table with my small, introverted effort and don’t have to put on a facade. I still enjoy their company. And on some quirky days, it might go something like this:
“The table in front of the two of them was covered with bottles.
“The point is,” said Crowley, “The point is. The point is.” He tried to focus on Aziraphale.
“The point is,” he said, and tried to think of a point.
“The point I’m trying to make,” he said, brightening, “is the dolphins. That’s my point.”
“Kind of fish,” said Aziraphale.
“Nononono,” said Crowley, shaking a finger. “’S mammal. Your actual mammal. Difference is—” Crowley waded through the swamp of his mind and tried to remember the difference…”— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman